Recently, I asked all my friends* on twitter what sorts of articles they would like to read about here on GDB. One friend suggested a sort of checklist-style article about preparing for a redesign. Hence the following article. If you would like to suggest a topic for discussion and exploration here at GDB, head on over to our contact page, facebook fan page, or @mention me on twitter and we’ll try to help you out! (Also, to whomever requested this topic, I misplaced your name, so if you would kindly remind me, I’ll add your name and twitter account in here.)
With all of that out of the way, I suggest to you a list of questions you should ask yourself before attempting any sort of redesign.
1. What is the purpose of this redesign?
Generally there should be a purpose behind redesigning anything. Whether your revamping a web site, recreating a logo, or working on some print collateral, rarely should you decide to redesign something “just because you want to”. Generally redesigning things can take a toll on branding and continuity in the marketing of an organization or company, so unless the benefits of your purpose outweigh the potential problems a redesign could cause, perhaps you should consider an alternative option.
2. Who am I targeting with this redesign?
When you are establishing a specific purpose for your redesign (see point #1 above) be sure to consider your target audience. Different demographics respond differently to certain colors, shapes, textures, and other important design elements. Sometimes, as designers, we get stuck in our small box of what looks good to us and we forget that we are designing for others. Only as we take a step back and attempt to design through the eyes of a non-designer will we be able to effectively reach our target audience.
3. Why am I attempting a redesign now?
This question has everything to do with timing. What is it that made you decide to redesign you site, logo, etc. now? Let me offer a case in point: the wordpress theme I used to use here at GDB was the first theme I had ever developed and subsequently had major flaws. It came to a point here at GDB where I noticed that readers were leaving the site or spending very little time on the site and, after studying my site analytics in depth, I realized there were some major usability issues which caused traffic to go down. That was the moment I decided to redesign Graphic Design Blender. The timing was perfect, I studied it out, and then I made an educated decision on when the best time to redesign would be.
4. How many changes do I need to make?
Continuing with the scenario above, I have made a large number of changes to the site since the initial redesign. I added a navigation bar with Polls, a Job Board, your basic pages such as contact, write for GDB, etc. I have also adjusted the sidebar and footer. When I realized these changes needed to be made, I didn’t start all over from scratch with a complete redesign. I simply tweaked the design I already had.
My point? Sometimes you don’t need to entirely overhaul the logo, site, print work, or whatever design project you have. Sometimes all it takes is a little realignment, small adjustments, or rethinking of a few elements.
The fewer the changes, the better you can keep your branding and usability consistent for your users/customers. You may also want to check out this list of 10 Dos and Dont’s when redesigning a logo.
5. How long will this design last?
I have run into designers who completely redesign their web sites every 6 to 8 months. Frankly, I think this is a little ridiculous. One major question to ask yourself when redesigning anything is how long your new design will last. Are you creating such a trendy-looking logo that in years, you will need to redesign it again?
In order to make your redesign last as long as possible, consider the following:
- Don’t make it too trendy, or you’ll be redesigning again real soon.
- Consider the growth of company/organization involved. Design a site, logo, etc. that can grow and fluctuate accordingly.
6. What are my goals and objectives?
Lastly, establish solid goals and objectives for your redesign. What is it you are trying to accomplish? If your goal is simply to make it “look better” perhaps you should think twice about a complete redesign. Try to back up your design goals with tangible goals. If you are redesigning your portfolio site, for example, perhaps your goal is to increase the number of leads you get by a certain percentage. If you are redesigning your blog, maybe your tangible result is a lower bounce rate. Regardless of what you are redesigning, make sure you have solid goals and objectives to back up your work.
Add your tips to the list
That’s it for me. What other tips, advice, or questions to ask yourself would you add to the list? Share them with us, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
*(PS. Yes, I know that “friends” are a facebook word and “followers” are the twitter word, but I’m not the leader of a cult, and I consider all of you my friends regardless of the media of choice.)